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Ready to Launch - Game Launch Issues

A discussion post regarding situations that arise when an Indie team prepare to launch their new game.

Grant Keinzley, Blogger

March 6, 2009

5 Min Read

Launching a new game as an Indie devloper comes with many draw-backs.
The greatest of these is the initial financial outlay to get it from the developer's table to the open marketplace.

Launching a new game; a first game, carries with it many tasks that need to be performed such as, hosting the game, a successful web face to it all, a customer / user support system in place, a marketing plan and strategy, and an advertising campaign to get it seen.

It all takes time, and more importantly; it all takes money.

All of these things cost the small game companies dearly. Some small game companies give up the project and sell out to bigger companies. Other launch attempts are simply looked-over because their marketing and advertising campaigns were not strong enough to dazzle.

So where does all the money have to go upon launching a new / first game?
That is the big question that a game crew has to ask.

More money on good hosting means less spent on advertising.
More spent on advertising runs the risk of inadequate hosting, and a game that users will join and forget in around 10 minutes.

Its an ongoing consideration for small game companies to get the rewards they deserve for the work that they have done, and developing an expenditure system that meets all of their game's needs without breaking the bank is the greatest consideration of all.

So why is it so much trouble to get something that has been worked upon for such a long time started?
Simply because at the time of launch....
The last beautifying features have to be added, and many of these features have to be payed for.

eg: Flash movies for advertising, extra in-game adornments that were needed and added quickly to meet the deadline, the addition of commercial-licensed Royalty-Free sound files of good gaming quality, and many other such small items.

Most of the time more money goes into the game's trimmings than the game's production.

So there it is....the ready to launch game, the game is ready, it is live, but it is still to earn its keep.

Most small game companies that give up the project will do so at this point.
It is there....but the money is gone, and the game is still to produce an income.
Yet, and sadly....more money needs to be spent to make the project successful.

I Need MORE Money!

You have screamed it.....we all have screamed it. Its as common as bread and butter / milk and cookies. Who cares.

At this point there are only 2 avenues left - Private funding, or; go to the bigger game companies and seek sponsorship and support.

Private funding is not as easy as it sounds. Being a game dev you'll more than likely spend more of your time at your machine than going out and meeting people. This is not your fault, game devs are machine heads, not meeter's and greeter's.

There is an endless amount of great ideas, and great projects sitting around that were never seen. And the cause of this was simply the funding issue.

A solution to this problem is pure and simple and yet most Indie's dont prepare for it because they believe that when the hard work of the devloping team is done then the game will sell itself.

Well sorry to say people....the answer is that it doesn't sell itself. 

The remedy for this problem sits at game conception time. Look at what the game is about, who are the audience going to be, why will they play it, and.....(and this is the biggee) who will fund your game when it is ready.

If you have already determined the type of company that will fund your game then you have made your first big steps into the corporate gaming world.

Its a corporate world and I am not saying that you'll need to bow down to the corporations and compromise your art, but lets face facts. If you want to buy a house, then you'll need a bank loan, and the bank will require you to meet a list of criteria.

In the gaming corporate world investors are the same...it is your art, for that is what they are paying for, but you'll need to fit into one of their niches if you are to be considered for funding. 

Your design elements will need to be built with that preset in mind. e.g My game is an mmo, I will be funded by a larger mmo production company, so I will develop my game to focus within that mmo environment and build it so it is pleasing to the larger mmo production company to win my funding.

With these pre-requisites met you and your team can go about building your game.

Then at release time the game will have an overall feeling of being developed for the larger investor company, designed for playability, to sell to which end user group, and is investable for which type of game production company

....and hence will have a greater chance of making it to your chosen audience. 

Your goal here is to please the investors for if the investors are impressed, then you'll have your funding. And if you have your funding, then you will indeed have your end-users.

Dont make the mistake of just developing for the users.

Develop for the investors, as they are the ones who are writing your first cheques.

So from the beginnings have a plan....Game Idea + User + Investor, and build to that plan. Then you will find that you will be already prepared for what will happen next when your game is ready for launch. 

Happy Developing :) 


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